Whipped cream splattered and caked the faces of Weehawken’s own little Olympians this summer as they raced to see who would finish first in the annual summer pie eating contest.
The contest, which drew about 15 hungry competitors, was held at the athletic field next to Weehawken Town Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 13.
“The contest has been running for at least 16 years,” said Chris Verdon, recreational supervisor.
Kids ranged in ages from 3 to 11, and were broken up into three groups according to their age.
“They break it up into age groups. It’s very popular, and we have an assortment of pies,” said Kate McMahon, coordinator for the town’s summer recreation programs. “Whoever cleans their plate with their hands behind their back [wins] a trophy for first, second, and third place in each age group.”
The contest was open and free to any kids who are residents of Weehawken.
“[All we ask is] just bring your appetites,” said Verdon.
Kids started to show up around 6:30 p.m. and the great eat off began at 7 p.m.
For the contest each child had a large piece of pie in front of them with the most important ingredient dripping all over the sides: whipped cream!
“We put a lot of whipped cream on top to make it nice and messy,” said Verdon. “Sometimes we’re even pushing their faces into it for nice, messy pictures.”
The recreation department provided the contestants with 15 apple pies. Typically other flavors are also included such as blueberry and raspberry pie. Unfortunately the only other flavors available were lemon meringue and rhubarb pie. Not quite children favorites.
“If I can’t pronounce it, I won’t feed it,” joked Verdon.
Recreational supervisors there that day were Chris Verdon and Donald Jodice. They organized the kids into three groups – 6, 7, and 8 year olds, then 9 and 10 year olds, and 10 to 11 year olds.
“[I joined the contest] because I was hungry,” said Henry Psaltos, 7, who said he ate a lot of pie although he said he wasn’t that big a fan of apple pie. “But I know I liked it because I ate.”
“He eats like me,” said Nick Psaltos, Henry’s father. “I was surprised he did this. We discovered a new talent today.”
Each group raced to finish their pie in about two to three minutes without the use their hands. The kids would stop every so often to wipe the whipped cream from their eyes and face before digging right back in. Supervisors and parents helped by keeping the plate in front of the contestant.
First place winner for the 9- to 10-year-old group Gil Urtubia, 9, even asked for more pie after the contest was done.
“It feels good, it was pretty easy,” said Gil, who also won first place last year in his category.
One of the summer program’s biggest annual supporters, Councilwoman Rosemary Lavagnino was on hand to help with the judging and encouraging the kids.
“It’s great everyone stands around screaming for the person they like,” said Lavagnino. “There are some kids that do finish a whole pie and take great pride in accomplishing that.”
As a matter of fact, one contestant did finish her whole pie beating out her competitors in the 10- to 11-year-old group.
“I joined the contest because my friends were going to be in it, and I like pie, but I won’t do it again,” said Neidelyn Pina, 10, who won first place.
Neidelyn’s friend Erika Cardenas placed second in their category.
“I like pie and I like this contest,” said Erika. “I have never won a trophy [before].”
In the 10- to 11-year-old group, it was all girls who placed in the contest.
“These three girls beat out two pretty big boys,” said Verdon.
The annual pie eating contest is one of several contests run throughout the summer as part of the Weehawken Summer Recreation Program.
Previously, the town hosted other popular contests such as the jigsaw puzzle contest and watermelon eating contest, and a Guitar Hero contest featuring the Aerosmith edition.
“We run about seven contests spread out through the summer,” said McMahon. “It goes with our summer program, which lasts about six weeks.”
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“[I joined the contest] because I was hungry.” – Henry Psaltos